According to the China CDC Weekly Report, the first monkeypox victim detected in the country was a Chinese man.
The patient is a 29-year-old salesman with homosexual tendencies. Between September 2 and 8, he visited Germany. He slept with a man while he was in Berlin on September 2.
The man started to develop symptoms after leaving the country. On September 9, he had a fever and a dry, scratchy throat. A red rash and pustules also appeared on his right ankle. He took painkillers on September 11 at a clinic.
The patient subsequently visited Spain before arriving in Chongqing on September 14. Following China’s pandemic protocols, he stayed at a quarantine site and reported his monkeypox-like symptoms to the city. China later confirmed its first monkeypox case on September 16.
On September 17, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese CDC Wu Zunyou wrote on Weibo that people should first avoid skin-to-skin contact with foreigners as a precaution against monkeypox transmission.
The recommendations sparked a heavy backlash, with mainlanders noting that many expats have lived in China for years and had never left the country since the COVID-19 outbreak.
On September 19, Wu revised his recommendation saying that people should avoid “intimate direct skin-to-skin contact” with foreigners or those who returned from areas with monkeypox outbreaks.
Globally, epidemiologists have sounded the alarm about the links between monkeypox cases and the gay and bisexual male community.
In a major peer-reviewed study released on July 21 in the New England Journal of Medicine, 98% of the cases surveyed were gay or bisexual males, with one being a transgender man. Potentially, 95% of the cases were transmitted through close sexual contact.
Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Brown University, stated, “These data point clearly to the fact that infections are so far almost exclusively occurring among men who have sex with men. And the clinical presentation of these infections suggest that sexual transmission, not just close physical contact, may be helping spread the virus among this population.”